For months now, eagle eyed "Mueller Court Watchers" have been buzzing about some secret filings related to an unnamed person or company. Politico talked about what they saw in the DC Courthouse back in October, but nothing they witnessed or overheard gave many clues.
Last Friday there was an insane flurry of activity in the D.C. federal courthouse, with some of the actions taken to maintain secrecy shocking even the most seasoned court watchers. The hearing appeared to be related to a grand jury subpoena challenge. Extreme measures included closing off an entire floor of the courthouse, preventing the press and the public from even walking onto the floor where the hearing would be held, and whisking attorneys in and out of the building through secret entrances.
Then, late Tuesday, a court order came out denying the motion and ordering an unidentified company -- described only as a “corporation” owned by “Country A” -- to surrender “information” to the grand jury. The three-judge panel stated in their ruling, “We are unconvinced that Country A’s law truly prohibits the corporation from complying with the subpoena," and the Court further imposed a $5,000 a week fine for failure to comply.
So who or what is this mystery company? Well, before I even had a chance to read the tweets or articles, my mom called me and declared that she thinks she knows exactly what it is - a BANK. I mulled it over, because I honestly thought it could be an Israeli security company or a Russian company (Rosneft) or maybe even a Russian intelligence company like the Internet Research Agency. Then Ari Melber jumped on this story with Nick Akerman in the above clip. Akerman agreed with my mom.
Here's a bit of what they had to say:
MELBER: When you read the unusual secrecy around this, and tonight finally a ruling that says, go forward and get information from "A" corporation own the by "A" country, what does it mean?
ACKERMAN: What it means to me, it's a bank. What they're trying to get are bank records from a foreign bank that is owned by the foreign country. So that would be a country like Russia, China, maybe Saudi Arabia. What they're trying to do is to get banking records that are located outside of the United States. And there are a number of countries that own banks. But it seems to me what they're looking for is money flowing.
MELBER: Just to be clear in a typical case, say, someone is unhappy with a credit card issued by a foreign bank and they sue over it and they get into court, would you lock down the whole courthouse for that.
AKERMAN: No, no. This is for a grand jury. You're trying to maintain the grand jury secrecy, which is why you don't have any parties' names in the caption of this case. Normally, in any case where you're dealing with a grand jury situation where you have to talk about the facts of the case, the courtroom would be locked down. And keep in mind, if you look at this opinion, the three judges here actually received something from the government that was in secret that only looked at so they could see exactly what this investigation was about and why it was the government wanted those -- I think they're bank records. It's just got to be.
It all makes sense. Money laundering. Tax evasion. Foreign payments. Maybe even foreign donations to a certain presidential campaign. Who knows where this goes. Follow the money, see where it leads.